As a scriptural text, Bhagavad Gita is a widely popular item more than 5100 years after it was written and recorded as a part of the epic Mahabharata by Sage Ved Vyas. It is a battlefield discourse handed down by a person of powerful personality, a celebrated yogi and a multifaceted genius, Shri Krishna, to the warrior Arjun who was confused and bemused about his duty immediately before the commencement of the battle.
The sublime sermon by Shri Krishna has become immortalised in the annals of history as the timeless pathway to the progress of humans.
The Bhagavad Gita means different things to different people. To many a business tycoon of the present era, it is a key to their excellent success in the fiercely competitive business world.
The modern corporate world is profit-centred and profit-oriented. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this orientation, but working persons should not be treated merely as cogs in the wheel of a business enterprise.
Drawing from the preaching of Bhagavad Gita, where ‘dharma’ is the watchword, corporate governance should have a human angle and much more than a spiritual angle to it because humans are essentially spiritual beings.
Humans are spiritual beings seeking happiness, fulfilment and salvation throughout their lives. The rules of corporate governance should be designed, and working systems created accordingly. Rules should be such as will not permit human exploitation and such as will ensure equitable distribution of profit proceeds of the business.
The Bhagavad Gita talks of the need for the human being to relinquish passionate attachment to the desired fruits of his action and stop worrying about it. But in practical life situations, it is impossible to completely ignore the expected or desired fruit of human action which is like a corporate goal or target. Individual targets have to be set by corporate professionals, and plans set accordingly.
Similarly, there are larger corporate goals in front of the top management. Setting goals is necessary for actionable planning. But the moot point is that once goals are set, the focus should shift to action.
Obsession with the goals or the results of actions should be supplanted by an obsession with action to perform the tasks best. But the role of zeal and passion is important too. Without zeal, humans do not accomplish their tasks well. Here, it has to be understood that a professional should enthusiastically work towards spiritual goals once the mundane goals have been set.
But what are these spiritual goals?
Business houses should shift partial focus from material goals to ‘customer satisfaction goals.
Practical examples can best illustrate this. A business house should shift focus partially from revenue and profits to customer satisfaction, as spelt out in its preamble. For example, an automobile manufacturing company should strive more to bring customers the best economical, safe driving experience.
A hospital chain should focus more on bringing the best healthcare experience to its patients as customers. A company in the processed food industry should focus more on achieving the set landmarks in purity and wholesomeness of the items at a competitive cost to maximise the satisfaction of customers.
At the individual levels of self-employed professionals, a doctor should work towards treating his patient to cure his ailment in the shortest time rather than deliberately prolonging treatment for extra pecuniary gains. A school teacher should aim and strive to give the best academic grooming to his students for 100 per cent success in the Board level examinations for his class.
A teacher who hankers after money may indulge in private tuition at the expense of his normal work and violate the sublime laws of success as expounded in the Bhagavad Gita, thereby coming low on material and spiritual success development. A politician should work towards developing his constituency and improving the living conditions of his electorate rather than indulge in corrupt practices that will defeat the purpose of his election.
The corporate culture must be more in tune with the eternal principles of righteousness or dharma. The best lesson to absorb from Bhagavad Gita is to understand dharma and bring our mental and intellectual faculties in line with it.
It guides us to set our living systems, including our systems of professional working, in line with the positive and progressive vibrations of dharma. This will solve many of the complex problems of the business world confronting us today and help to establish equitable prosperity, enhancing peace and multifaceted progress of all.